How to Raise Confident, Flexible Kids

Parents have been asking me what it takes to ensure they do a good job parenting their children – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. My answer is an easy one—but cannot be done without the help of parents and other caregivers —and that is to focus on building resilience in your children so they can turn what they feel are their weaknesses into strengths. 

If you want to build resiliency in your child, here are my suggestions: 

Build confidence 

Help your child build their confidence by helping them identify and celebrate their individual strengths. In addition, enable them to make their own decisions instead of making all the decisions for them. Doing this will help them to recognize some of their best qualities such as fairness, integrity, persistence, and kindness.   

Open communication

Create a home environment where family members connect with each other, talk openly to resolve problems, and foster healthy family relationships to build a sense of safety and emotional security in your child.  

Foster a sense of community

Getting your child to want to do something for the community enables them to feel that they are making a difference, which can also build resilience in them. Focus on helping develop your child’s character. By including them in a community improvement activity, you can point out how they are making a difference by caring for others who may be less fortunate than they are.    

Coping skills

Teaching your child how to cope effectively with stress is another great way to promote resilience—especially if you focus on their coping strategies being positive and not negative ones.   

Love and empathy

Finally, be there for your child and love them unconditionally especially when they think they are not doing well, whether in school, sports or other daily life activities. Don’t be dismissive of how they feel about themselves—but validate those feelings by saying, “If I felt that way about myself, I’d feel terrible too.” It doesn’t mean you agree with their self-perception, but it means you empathize. Once your child feels heard, they will be more open to alternative perspectives.  

Hopefully you’ll find tips like these useful when it comes to instilling resiliency, inner strength, and confidence into your children.  

Lewis First, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5 

To learn more about supporting children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, visit


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